The year 2020 will forever be regarded as a standout time in world history. Society stood still under the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended the lives of millions. However, an interesting phenomenon emerged from this pressure on the global population in the form of interconnected human struggle and perseverance. This shocked me even more as an immigrant from Beirut, Lebanon and a survivor of a 20-year civil war. In many ways, this virus united us as it forced many into a day-by-day lifestyle, strengthened our resiliency, and taught us how to remain standing against new obstacles. I reminisced on our daily livelihood during the war in Beirut. The scenes of people standing in food bank lines all over the United States reminded me of the days we waited in bread lines in the city annihilated by rounds of conflict and fighting.
In a different light, this reality has encouraged me to count my blessings when I remember that this way of life is in no way a new one for the global Refugee community. Currently there are close to 71 million individuals worldwide who are displaced due to factors such as persecution, human rights violation, wars, and the effects of climate change. This year, the COVID pandemic was an added plight to refugees, asylum seekers and displaced individuals as a lot of them live in crowded conditions, lack proper health care and clean sanitary environments, and a lot of them lost their jobs and are suffering economically. Refugees and immigrants in the United States have suffered disproportionately with less resources and with most of them fighting the disease as front-line workers.
I work at US Together, a Refugee Resettlement Agency in Columbus, Ohio where we assist refugees from all over the world to rebuild their lives and become active and productive members in the communities that host them in Columbus. This year, despite the pandemic, the staff, advocates, and volunteers at US Together continued to offer a myriad of services to the Refugee and Immigrant communities in Columbus. We continued to connect our clients with much needed resources and services, provided relevant translated COVID information, and developed new ways to do outreach and educate the public about the issues affecting the populations that we serve.
The year 2021 will not be any easier for the populations that we work with, and we at US Together are committed to continue serving the refugee and immigrant communities in Ohio and as they continue to be in the front lines fighting this pandemic.